Until the 17th century the area where Dolmabahçe Palace stands today was a small bay on the Bosphorus, claimed by some to be where the Argonauts anchored during their quest for the Golden Fleece, and where in 1453 Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror had his fleet hauled ashore and across the hills to be refloated in the Golden Horn.
A series of imperial köşks (mansions) and kasırs (pavilions) were built here, eventually growing into a palace complex known as Beşiktaş Waterfront Palace.It was demolished in 1843 by Sultan Abdülmecid (1839-1861) on the grounds that it was made of wood and inconvenient, and construction of Dolmabahçe Palace commenced in its place. Construction of the new palace and its periphery walls was completed in 1856.
Restoration of Dolmabahçe Palace has now been completed and every section is open to the public. Two galleries are devoted to an exhibition of precious items of various kinds, and fine examples of Yıldız porcelain from the National Palaces collection are displayed at the İç Hazine (Privy Purse) building.
Paintings from the National Palaces collection can be seen in the Art Gallery, where they are displayed in rotation in the form of long-term exhibitions. On the lower floor beneath this gallery is a corridor containing a permanent exhibition of photographs showing the bird designs which feature in the palace's architecture and its furnishings and ornaments. Abdülmecid Efendi Library in the Mabeyn is the other principal exhibition area at Dolmabahçe.